NYT/CBS poll: Romney 46, Obama 43

The weighted sample of registered voters: 36D/30R/34I, which is right in line with most national polls.

Maybe Karl was right about that “turning point.”

The bombshell number, obviously, is Romney leading O by two among women. If that happens on election day, rest assured that the overall margin will be a lot wider than three points. So what’s driving the sudden Mittmania? It’s probably not the economy:

Most Americans (67 percent) believe the economy is in bad shape, but respondents expressed the most optimism on that issue since January 2008 – months before the economic crisis was in full swing. Thirty-two percent of Americans said the economy was in good shape, and 36 percent said they thought it was getting better. Twenty-four percent of Americans said they thought the economy was getting worse, and 39 percent said they thought it was staying the same.

Fifty percent of Americans said they approve of Mr. Obama’s performance as president, while 48 percent disapproved.

Not a terrible poll for O and yet suddenly he’s fading among a key demographic. What explains the downturn? Probably an insta-backlash to his “evolution” on gay marriage:

While 25 percent say the president’s support for same-sex marriage makes them less likely to support his reelection, 16 percent say his position makes them more likely to support him. Fifty-eight percent say the announcement will not affect how they vote…

Asked if they had to decide if same-sex marriage should be legal, 51 percent said no, including 81 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents. Forty-two percent said yes, including 13 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents.

That 42/51 split on gay marriage is sharply lower than what Gallup found last week. Given Romney’s closing of the gender gap here, support for SSM must also be sharply lower among women (there are no crosstabs by gender) even though most women said they favor gay marriage in Gallup’s poll today. As for the 16/25 split on those who say O’s SSM shift will make them more/less likely to vote for him, that’s similar to the 13/26 split that Gallup found when it asked the same question last week. Among independents, Gallup had the split 11/23. NYT/CBS sees something similar there too:

This result probably isn’t helping him either:

On second thought, is that result helping him? Could be that some people who would otherwise support his shift on gay marriage have been turned off because he’s been so transparently cynical and opportunistic about it. But since he’s losing votes on this issue on balance, I’m thinking maybe the opposite is true — maybe some in his base, like black evangelicals, are inclined to let him slide for taking a position they find immoral precisely because they don’t think he’s embraced it on principle.

The money question for O is whether the gay-marriage backlash will last or whether it’s a fleeting reaction to all the headlines about it last week. If it does hold up for a few more weeks, Romney’s going to be sorely tempted to start spending some time on it on the stump even at the expense of his “economy, economy, economy” message. But maybe he doesn’t need to; such was the media attention to Obama’s “evolution” that everyone’s already heard about it, which means all he really needs to do is nudge voters on it now and then as a reminder.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on February 02, 2023